Erica Dhawan: Digital Body Language, Effective Communication Strategies for the Digital Age | E210

Erica Dhawan: Digital Body Language, Effective Communication Strategies for the Digital Age | E210

Erica Dhawan: Digital Body Language, Effective Communication Strategies for the Digital Age | E210

As a shy, introverted Indian-American girl growing up in Pittsburgh, Erica Dhawan struggled to find her voice. She juggled two languages and two cultures, and, eventually, she became fascinated with human connections. In her book, Digital Body Language, Erica breaks down how to build trust and connection in a digital environment. In today’s episode, Erica will talk about digital body language and how we can foster clarity, trust, and connection while working in virtual and hybrid teams.
Erica Dhawan is a game-changing thought leader and one of the most sought-after keynote speakers today. She has been invited to share the speaking stage with the world’s top leaders from Condoleezza Rice, to Arianna Huffington, to Bill Gates. She is the author of two books: Get Big Things Done and Digital Body Language. Erica is the founder and CEO of Cotential, a global consulting firm that transforms the way companies work through 21st-century collaboration.
In this episode, Hala and Erica will discuss:
– Erica’s upbringing as a shy observer
– How Erica built her speaking empire
– Using nonverbal cues in the Digital Age
– How to craft your subject line
– Zoom DOs and DON’Ts
– Why reading carefully is the new listening
– The importance of emojis
– How to recognize a disengaged employee
– AI and the new wave of creative careers
– And other topics…
Erica Dhawan is best known as the leading authority on 21st-century collaboration and teamwork in a digital-first workplace. Her research and insights on Connectional Intelligence and Digital Body Language help teams and organizations worldwide thrive in today’s workplace. In 2021, she was named #12 on the Top Motivational Speakers. Thinkers50 named her the “Oprah of Management Ideas.” Erica delivers virtual and in-person keynotes, interactive workshops, and online learning courses.
She is the co-author of the bestselling book: Get Big Things Done and the author of Digital Body Language. Her writings have appeared in dozens of publications, including Fast Company, Forbes, and Harvard Business Review. She has an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, an MBA from MIT Sloan, and a BS from the Wharton School. Erica is the founder and CEO of Cotential, a global consulting firm that transforms the way companies work through 21st-century collaboration.
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[00:01:34] Erica Dhawan: I remember back in 2017, 2018, I was pitching a book I called Digital Body Language and no publisher would take it. They said, this is too niche, you're not a celebrity. In 2021 it was number three on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.

[00:01:47] It was named the Best Book of the Year by Strategy and Business Magazine. And I think it came from never stop believing, and stick through it through the years of struggle. This is a phenomena [00:02:00] we comprehend less when we read on screens, but there are ways to actually read more carefully and also write more clearly so that our message gets across.

[00:02:10] Taking the time to read carefully is the new head nod. Taking the time to write clearly is the new empathy. I respect you and I'm gonna give you what you need to do your best work.

[00:02:25] Hala Taha: What is up Young and Profiteers.? You are listening to YAP, Young and Profiting podcast, where we interview the brightest minds in the world and turn their wisdom into actionable advice that you can use in your daily life. I'm your host, Hala Taha, a k a, the podcast Princess. Thanks for listening and get ready to listen, learn and profit.

[00:02:47] Erica, welcome to Young and Profiting podcast. 

[00:02:50] Erica Dhawan: It's so great to be here, Hala. 

[00:02:52] Hala Taha: I am super excited for this conversation. I know it's gonna be really valuable for my Young and Profiteers. So guys, Erica Dhawan is a [00:03:00] leading authority on 21st century teamwork, collaboration, and innovation. She's been named by Thinkers 50 as the Oprah of Management Thinkers, and she's the author of two books, Get Big Things Done and Digital Body Language.

[00:03:13] Erica is a highly in-demand speaker, who has presented on global stages ranging from the World Economic Forum to Ted and for companies like Coca-Cola, Walmart, and FedEx. On today's episode, it's gonna be all about digital body language and how we can foster clarity, trust, and connection while working in virtual and hybrid teams.

[00:03:32] But first, I wanna learn a bit more about Erica and how she got to where she's today. So Erica, I learned that you've always been interested in body language even since you were a young girl. You have a very unique background. Your parents immigrated from India and they didn't speak any English at home.

[00:03:47] So I learned that you often spoke broken English at school. You were quiet, introverted as a student, so I'd love to understand how your quietness, led to you becoming more observant of people's body language. 

[00:03:59] Erica Dhawan: [00:04:00] Absolutely. Hala, as you mentioned, I grew up as a really shy, introverted kid. My parents were Indian immigrants, and at home we spoke Hindi growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

[00:04:10] But when I got to school, I had accented English. I was the shyest kid in the class. Calling attention to myself was unimaginable to me. In every report card I often got straight A's, but every teacher had the same feedback. It said, I wish Erica spoke up more in class. And for much of my life, I really just continued to struggle to find my voice and connect across differences and distances.

[00:04:34] But one of the ways I really learned to bridge that connection was by mastering, how to decipher other people's body language. I would study because I was the shy observer, how the popular girls had their heads high, the cool kids slouched during school assemblies. And it really taught me from an early age. That it's not what we say, it's how we say it.

[00:04:56] Fast forward in my professional career. In my early [00:05:00] twenties, I was reading every book on body language and communication, and my mastery of body language, having struggled with it as a kid. Allowed me to get competitive jobs, to become a teacher of body language and to build a global firm teaching communication skills to leaders around the world.

[00:05:19] Hala Taha: I love it. Human behavior and body language. This is some of my favorite things to talk about on the podcast. We've had so many experts on the show, but you bring such a unique lens, especially from the digital body language lens. So I can't wait to dive into all of that. So let's fast forward a bit. Like you mentioned, you studied a lot about human behavior.

[00:05:37] I think you've been studying this topic of communication, collaboration, human innovation for 15 years or more. So you got your degree from Wharton School of Business, you got a master's from MIT in Harvard, and you even taught courses in leadership and collaboration as a research fellow. And after studying your life a little bit, I learned that this research actually motivated you to start your own speaking business, and then [00:06:00] scale it from a what if idea into a global company.

[00:06:03] Like you just mentioned. You are now one of the top keynote speakers in the world, male, female, brown, white, you name it. Like you are a top speaker, but you started at zero and you had no speaking experience or media connection. So I wanna understand how you built this empire. 

[00:06:19] Erica Dhawan: I believe that anything we build starts with an obsessive passion.

[00:06:24] And I really mean not just passion, but obsessive. I was that shy kid that wanted to fit in, that wanted to learn how I could find my voice. And I think as I grew in my professional career, as I found my voice, I really became obsessively passionate about helping others find their voice. In our modern work environment, in whatever profession they were in.

[00:06:49] And as a research fellow at Harvard, I was teaching courses on public speaking. And what I found at that point that was about almost 10 years ago, was that [00:07:00] so much of what we were teaching was written for the 20th century world. It was stand up straight, don't slouch. And that stuff's still important.

[00:07:09] Even on video calls. It was wear are certain clothes. It was, learn how to have a firm handshake. And yes, those things still matter. I continue to remind people of those things. But what was happening was communication was changing with the world. We're living in with more digital tools to communicate with more distances, that we were communicating across.

[00:07:32] Now the world of rings, dings, vibrations, video call, Slack, text, email, you name it. I really discovered that body language wasn't disappearing in these worlds. It was transforming and it was transforming into a whole new set of signals and cues that I call digital body language. Now, when I talk about digital body language, I'm not talking about video call cues.

[00:07:54] I'm talking about all of the signals and cues today that have replaced the [00:08:00] handshake, the head nod, the lean in a modern workplace. Everything from our response time to which communication channel. We use to the thoughtfulness of our punctuation, our emojis. I like to say reading messages carefully is the new listening.

[00:08:13] Writing clearly is the new empathy. And to really go back to how did I grow this idea into a training company. It really started with that obsessive passion, that I wanted to get to the heart of how we can connect across difference and distance. It came from my own passions. Secondly, I think it came from, I'll quote many other, entrepreneurs that have been on this show, but Marie Forleo says it best.

[00:08:39] I think it's that Everything Is Figureoutable, that's the title of her book. I had this ethos often being the immigrant kid, where I worked in finance and most people didn't look like me. That worked in finance on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers. I was teaching courses at Harvard and I was young and was in a different [00:09:00] environment.

[00:09:00] And I think that this idea that we can do anything and we can figure it out was a big part of this, my goal and what allowed me to be successful. And then I think the last thing, the last key trait that I'll emphasize is just excellence. That I was out there to get to the heart of how do we improve not only traditional body language, but this whole new world of digital body language that is cascading the world.

[00:09:26] And I remember back in 2017, 2018, I was pitching a book deal on this book I called Digital Body Language, and no publisher would take it. They said, this is too niche. You're not a big name. You're not a celebrity. But in 2021, it was number three on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list endorsed by Dan Pink, Adam Finch, Sheryl Sandberg, Billie Jean King, you name it.

[00:09:46] It was named the Best Book of the Year by Strategy and Business Magazine. And I think it came from never stop believing and focus on my niche. What I was obsessively passionate about and stick through it through the years of [00:10:00] struggle. So those are just a few of the themes that I've learned over the years.

[00:10:04] Hala Taha: I love it. And Erica, I've gotten to know you personally. You're a client at YAP Media and from the first day that I met you, like you had such an engaging. I we've never met in person, but I feel like I know you so well because you're just so talented at communicating digitally. 

[00:10:18] Erica Dhawan: I feel the same way, Hala.

[00:10:20] Hala Taha: Thank you. I appreciate it. So let's get into the meat and potatoes of today's conversation. It's really all about digital body language. And so like you mentioned, your book was a huge bestseller in 2021. Remote work was a thing before covid, but it like became almost mandatory. Everybody transitioned to this and now today, 2023, a lot of us are still virtual or in hybrid work environments.

[00:10:46] So still very important to understand. And technology's obviously great. Without technology, the economy would've tanked during covid. Thank God we had it. But it comes with a lot of disadvantages. And so I wanna start here. Talk to us about the [00:11:00] difference between traditional body language and digital body language.

[00:11:03] Erica Dhawan: I'll share a story that I think reminds us how signals show up differently in traditional versus digital body language. And this is a true story about a client I coached. She was an executive, she worked at a large company, and this is pre pandemic. She got some feedback that her empathy was weak in a 360 form performance evaluation.

[00:11:25] So I started to shadow, I was coaching her, or I started to shadow some of her meetings in the office, and I found that she was wonderful at all the traditional markers of empathy. When she was in a room with people, she had great eye contact, she asked thoughtful questions. She allowed them to feel heard.

[00:11:43] She took moments to allow everyone to laugh and have fun together. But while her traditional body language signals of empathy were great, her digital body language was abysmal. She would send brief low context email saying, send me this now, or, where's this [00:12:00] in? All caps in a text message freaking out.

[00:12:02] Or her employees, even though she was just typing fast on video calls. She would often not realize that looking down at her phone constantly or looking away. Often signaled to our team that she was multitasking. She would cancel meetings. At the last minute that were virtual conference calls, often demoralizing her team that often was waiting weeks to present something to her.

[00:12:25] And so what we really discovered in that journey is while there are great traditional markers of empathy and connection, that we all often learned in the business world. There's a whole new set of digital markers of empathy and respect. Things like understanding that valuing people visibly is valuing their time, their inboxes and their schedules. Instead of the firm handshake in traditional body language.

[00:12:50] At the end of the meeting. It's the quick recap email after a virtual or hybrid meeting saying, here's what's happened, here's what's next steps are. Which allows everyone to feel [00:13:00] aligned and feel like they were heard. We've all been in those in-person meetings where everyone's nodding their head and then nothing got done.

[00:13:05] So you know that quick recap email is just as important in an in-person meeting as it is in digital. Another example from traditional to digital is eye contact. When you quickly make that eye contact in person, you feel that emotional connection. In a digital world, I like to say the new eye contact is the quality of your subject line in email.

[00:13:25] So did you get their attention or was it brief or confusing or vague? Oftentimes that subject line will make or break whether someone opens your email. I think another example is, when you meet someone in person, you see their variances in cues. If they're smiling, you may smile back. If they're on the verge of tears, you may soften the way you engage with them.

[00:13:48] You may lean into engaging with them. When you shoot off that email. You have no idea whether someone's on the verge of tears or incredibly excited and smiling, and so it's really important. To [00:14:00] understand how to ask for feedback. How to have more frequent check-ins. I know teams that used to have a weekly one, one hour meeting in person.

[00:14:07] Now they have three 15 minute check-ins virtually throughout the week, and that actually is helping solve the problem of the loss of that in-person body language.

[00:14:17] Hala Taha: It's so interesting when you were talking about that lady who had abyssal. I thought you were personally attacking me. So I feel like I have a lot to learn and because it's hard as a leader, especially when you're a high achiever. You're moving really fast and I'm very personable in person and on video calls and stuff, but on Slack and email I feel like a lot can be lost.

[00:14:39] And I've talked to so many human behavior experts, and I know that 70% of all communication is non-verbal. And so that includes your body language, that includes your tone, and you don't have those things, when you're on Slack or on email. So I think a lot of things get lost. So talk to us about non-verbal cues and how that really hurts us digitally.[00:15:00] 

[00:15:00] Erica Dhawan: As you mentioned, 70% of communication is body language, but at the same time. In our modern marketplace, up to 70% of our communication is virtual or hybrid in some way. We are emailing, we are conference calling. We are digitally communicating with our colleagues on the same floor in the same office.

[00:15:17] I'll never forget pre pandemic being on a conference call where three of us were remote, three people were in the office, and it wasn't until the 26th minute of a 30 minute meeting that someone in the office said, does anyone on the phone have something to share? We've been excluded the entire time.

[00:15:32] And I would say this isn't just for virtual and hybrid teams, this is for teams that are five. Even if you're five days a week back in the office. You are still sending often the same amount of emails and doing many video calls with clients, with customers, with team members in different locations on different floors.

[00:15:49] And so taking a moment to really recognize that there is this loss of body language, that it does exist. But I'm a big believer in that [00:16:00] the answer to this is not just saying we all need to be back in person. In fact, well before the pandemic research showed that virtual teams can far outperform co-located teams because it's not about physical distance.

[00:16:12] There are a lot of toxic cultures and people all physically in the same office. It's about what's called affinity distance. Which is the level of trust, shared values, interdependency and water cooler moments and candor that they have with one another. And I have to say, I've seen. Teams of all kinds virtual hybrid really take and create these cultures.

[00:16:33] I've seen cultures that have teams on Slack, where they have the water cooler that used to be in the office, has become a Slack channel, where people are chatting all day. Where those quick one-off, banter moments for lunch have became dedicated hybrid office hours. Where every day at 12 there's a teams call where everyone can join and have lunch and network with one another.

[00:16:56] Where instead of having a 30 person meeting in person where only six [00:17:00] people talk. That leader now has breakout rooms where he shares a question. He has everyone breakout into groups of three. He has a host share their ideas, and he's hearing more from his introverts, from his junior colleagues in a way that he had never heard from them in the in-person office, because of body language bias. We're usually extroverts or senior people tended to take most of the airtime.

[00:17:20] If we use digital body language. We can actually address a lot of the biases that exist in-person traditional body language, and we can deepen human connection. 

[00:17:30] Hala Taha: It's so interesting what you're saying because I've been hosting this podcast for four and a half years and like I said, I've had every single human behavior expert on, and everyone's talking about in-person, step.

[00:17:41] But like you said, even if we're not on virtual or hybrid teams, like you just, I just had an aha moment. Cause I was like, wow, if you're working for any global corporation, all of this applies. I remember sitting in the Disney office and even though I was in person. I wasn't talking to anybody in the office.

[00:17:57] I was on calls with people in the UK, [00:18:00] California, and in my own world on the computer, but just around other people. And so you're so right. It's so important. Okay, so let's get into some tangible advice. I wanna start with Zoom. Okay. And I know there's so much more than just video calls, but I do wanna start with video calls because I think a lot of our communication.

[00:18:17] Is done on these calls and when we're thinking about body language on these calls. We don't have much to play with. We have our face of course, which has loss of expression, our hands, our neck. And so I'm just curious to understand like what are some best practices in terms of body language on Zoom?

[00:18:33] Erica Dhawan: There are few key best practices that I believe are must-haves. And I just wanna also highlight, we're three years into Zoom and video calls at the nor as the norm, not the exception. And so this is a really great moment, if you haven't set some of those video call meeting norms to actually do it with your teams.

[00:18:52] The first thing I'll share and I'll start by some norms for the host of the meeting. I would say that any meeting host has a [00:19:00] responsibility. To send an invite, that clarifies explicit expectations for those team members. So number one, if you want people to be present, send a short agenda. What does success look like at the end of the meeting?

[00:19:14] Number two, if you want people on video, one of the most common questions I get is how do I get people to turn on their video? Let them know beforehand. Simply write video, call on mandatory or video call on first 30 minutes, and then maybe there's a presentation and they don't need to be on, but they could be on for the first 10 or 20 minutes.

[00:19:31] Second, when you are as a host, when you are running the meeting in the first three minutes. It's your job to define and remind everyone what success looks like, why everyone's there, and how they'll participate. I like to say Zoom or video call hosts need to think like TV show hosts. A TV show host has always had to engage from a screen.

[00:19:51] They have to, let everyone know what the segments are of the show. They call on people to share. They cut people off if they're going too long and move to the [00:20:00] next segment in a polite wave. And so these are just examples to show, the way that a video call host needs to operate to be successful.

[00:20:08] That's different than relying on people to share and jump in an in-person meeting. A couple of other things that I think really matter, in video call meetings. If you are running a meeting where it's hybrid in any way, have a live host and have a remote host and have the remote host lead the first half of the meeting.

[00:20:27] I find that this often reduces the proximity bias of those that are in the office. Secondly, have someone be a note taker summarizing all the next steps of the meeting and sending it out with that quick recap email within 10 minutes of the meeting. This is what really creates alignment. And last but not least, one final quick tip is actually doing simple things like being creative about how to get the best out of your people.

[00:20:52] So I know one executive, he sends an agenda with questions. He wants everyone to be ready to answer at the beginning of the meeting. And then in the first five minutes [00:21:00] of the meeting has everyone share their answers and the chat tool or on a virtual whiteboard. And then he calls on those with the most diverse or unique ideas.

[00:21:07] And he says, I've heard more from people on Zoom than I ever heard from them in the office because of those traditional body language biases. Because it was 1, 1, 1 person. And that creates a lot of confirmation bias. Whereas if you get everyone's ideas in the first five minutes, junior team members.

[00:21:24] Feel more likely to share. The host is able to call on those with different ideas versus those just commonly agreeing with one another. Breakout rooms are a great example of this and so those are just examples of how we can be creative in Zoom meetings that actually allow us if, when used well to have even better in person or hybrid meetings.

[00:21:45] Hala Taha: Let's hold that thought and take a quick break with our sponsors. 

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[00:25:24] It's all about eye contact when you're in person. How does that change over Zoom? 

[00:25:30] Erica Dhawan: Research shows we make eye contact about 30 to 60% of the time in person. I would recommend that in a virtual setting, you wanna be trying to make signal eye contact about 60 to 70% in a virtual meeting. And there's a lot of ways you can actually do this.

[00:25:46] First and foremost. I'm a big fan of, you can make sure you look okay and you don't have a messy background, but then minimize your own camera on the video call so you're not looking at yourself. Second when you're presenting. I'm a big [00:26:00] proponent of actually looking into the camera, even though you can't see others. They feel that emotional connection to you.

[00:26:06] There's actually a camera, I'm a big fan of it. It's called PlexiCam, and you can put that video camera in the webcam in the middle of your screen, your monitor. And it's almost like perfect eye to eye contact. So if you're looking at someone, if I'm looking at you Hala. It makes you feel that I'm looking directly at you as well.

[00:26:24] There are ways that we can do this. You still have to check in with others. But I think the final thing that I'll share around eye contact is it's not gonna be perfect on video calls. And even as we're back in the office and we have one person on Zoom, we're looking on zoom, we're looking at others. We can't even see everyone's eyes in a boardroom often with someone sitting two seats ahead of us.

[00:26:44] But I think that what good digital body language looks like is not assuming that everyone's on the same page, but checking in saying, I shared this idea about the deadline, but I wanna hear from everyone. I'll go around in the Zoom chat and share when we think the deadline should be and why.

[00:26:59] Let's take [00:27:00] three minutes and then. Allow everyone to share and then have a discussion on that versus turn taking. Which often causes certain louder voices to take up. Usually up to 80% of the airtime. 

[00:27:12] Hala Taha: And back to the eye contact thing. I would imagine that, like you were mentioning earlier, looking at your phone or checking your email and people can tell you're tracking back and forth, when the conversation is just a conversation.

[00:27:22] So I would imagine that's a huge turnoff in those meetings as well. 

[00:27:26] Erica Dhawan: Absolutely. I have to say that especially since the pandemic, everything is sped up. I've seen, we can tend to be more impatient. We wanna get to the point quicker. We're used to looking down and looking in different places. We're used to people speaking in bullet points.

[00:27:41] So when people are rambling on, we're more impatient. We have to get back to our inboxes where we have hundreds of messages. I think eye contact is changing. And it still is about listening carefully and showing that care, but remembering that even as we get back to the hybrid meeting. Where there's people in the [00:28:00] room, people on screens, it's about creating better moderating principles for it as well.

[00:28:05] Whether it's everyone sharing in the chat or having that remote host. Have remote attendees share questions first, so that we're not just using our proximity bias to have eye contact with the people in a room. And if you look back at the research showed that we tend to reward those and promote those we see most often in the office.

[00:28:24] Think about that proximity bias. That's never been the best indicator of leaders of any profession. We were just biased to who we saw more often. And I think this gives us an opportunity to create what I call hybrid equity. That allows us to really reward the most talented people in our organizations versus those that are sitting next to us. 

[00:28:44] Hala Taha: So eye-opening. So interesting. So something that I liked when I asked you this question, you weren't really just focused on the video portion of it. You were talking about the structure of the meeting, like how you make sure people are aligned and recapped. And at YAP Media, our internal [00:29:00] meetings, I don't require anybody to be on camera because I feel like people need to walk around.

[00:29:04] I want people to be able and for me, when I'm on camera, I often look at myself and I feel distracted and I don't always wanna be on. I wanna be working in my PJs and focused and not having to worry about looking good or whatever. So how do you feel about that? Do you feel like it's an okay approach as a leader to tell people like, you don't need to put on your camera.

[00:29:23] I understand that you wanna move around and we're really, stuck to our seats lately and I know that's hard. 

[00:29:28] Erica Dhawan: I like to associate sort of video, the video call on off phenomenon to the different spectrum of how we dress up at work. There are organizations that wear casual jeans and t-shirts to work and are more casual in their cultures.

[00:29:43] And there are organizations that are more formal. Maybe more conservative, may expect to be video on all the time, because maybe they're in a different type of business, and I think another lens to that is trust and power levels. If it's client facing and you're trying to reach someone new versus an internal [00:30:00] team that has a lot of high trust. My general rule of thumb here is to think about when you really need video on and then otherwise don't waste your time.

[00:30:10] So I've seen leaders do things where they say, video call on first five minutes because I just wanna see your, I just wanna build that quick emotional connection. Then I don't care if you're on for the remaining 45 minutes because the whole goal is, I just wanna be able to see you first and have that eye contact and then I'm good.

[00:30:29] I've seen leaders do things where during the Q and A or group discussion section. They'll have video on so they can read body language then, but it doesn't matter during a presentation. I've also seen there's a study out of Wharton that showed that when two individuals have high trust. It's often better to have an audio only call versus a video call because they're less focused on how they look on camera, and they're more focused on the tone and intonation in the other person's voice.

[00:30:55] They're listening more intently to that. And I do co going back to your example, [00:31:00] I do think that's true, but it's about knowing your audience and understanding the power dynamics. And as a leader like you. You can actually set the tone for your culture. 

[00:31:09] Hala Taha: 100%. And then I always tell them any external calls you've gotta be camera on because that's just a respect thing.

[00:31:16] Erica Dhawan: Because it's a new relationship. 

[00:31:17] Hala Taha: Yes. New relationships, you need to do that. Okay, so let's go beyond Zoom calls. There's many different forms of virtual communications. There's email, text calls. So how do we know when to use what channel? 

[00:31:29] Erica Dhawan: We have all been in this situation. The meetings that should have been emails, the texts that should have been Slacks, the phone calls, that should have been emails.

[00:31:37] There are a few general principles that I share with my clients, that are critical to set communication norms on which channel to use and when to switch the channel. The first principle or factor is complexity of information. The second is the urgency of information, and the third is the frequency of the [00:32:00] information.

[00:32:00] So let's start with complexity. Now, if something is really complex, a big brainstorming, a big deliverable versus not complex. You may, wanna have some norms with your colleagues to error on the side of a video call of a team meeting, to have that discussion, but set some norms around it that, we always send a quick agenda around what we're talking about.

[00:32:20] So everyone's preparing before, so they bring their best ideas. We keep it to 20 minutes, not 30 minutes, or 40, not 60. So people have 10 minutes back for their mental health break. We always have that quick recap email for next step so everyone's aligned. If it's not complex, we keep it to an instant message or a Slack or whatever communication tool you use an informal tool. 

[00:32:41] The second factor is urgency. So do you need it in five minutes or five days? This is really important to discuss because often this can become ambiguous and create a lot of confusion as well as burnout, and overwhelm where people are slacking and texting at midnight. When they really don't have to be.

[00:32:57] Set some communication response time expectations [00:33:00] with each channel. So maybe email could be 24 hours. It depends on the culture, of course, texting maybe within the hour Slack maybe. I expect you to respond the same day in your business hours because we work with teams in different environments.

[00:33:14] So if you send something on Slack at 6:00 PM expect a response the next morning sometime versus late that night. If you use text, it should be for something that's needed within the hour, versus just having a group work text chain that is really needed in four or five days and not urgent. And so those are some of the examples.

[00:33:36] And then the third key factor principle I like to say is frequency. So how often are you using these tools? So again, this goes back to urgency as well, there's often a cadence around these things. So there may be a situation, where knowing that you've had a back and forth reply all email. Where you haven't resolved something should now move to that video call.

[00:33:59] And so [00:34:00] having that frequency of we're gonna have a weekly team video call. And we're gonna try to do as much as we can in asynchronous digital communication, but any open items we make sure we put on that agenda for those video calls. So knowing that frequency culture, I also think related to frequency understanding. How to make sure we don't just create this culture of endless email or Slack over, or instant messaging overload. Where what could have been a five minute quick discussion turned into 30 back and forth emails.

[00:34:30] So I've seen teams, they have a 9:00 AM quick touch base for 10 minutes on Zoom, and then a 4:00 PM quick touch base. And what the leader does is he says, if you have a question that's not answered by email, ask me, ask it to me then, and I'll solve it then. And what team members are doing is they're not wasting time trying to get in his inbox and he's not overwhelmed, if it can wait till 4:00 PM they know they can get to him at that scheduled time.

[00:34:54] So really thinking about the dynamics around this in that circuitous loop versus just [00:35:00] thinking everything should be rushed in an email or a Slack message. 

[00:35:03] Hala Taha: I feel like you're giving so much actionable advice. Like as a leader, I'm like thinking, we should do this. Oh, we should do that. I love the idea of telling people. Hey, there's specific response times that we expect per channel, because I find that some of my employees who may be really good performers. It feels like they're not working if they're not responding.

[00:35:23] Erica Dhawan: Yes. 

[00:35:23] Hala Taha: And because it's like Slack is our office, for example, and if you don't respond to me in a day. I have to think did this person work today? So it's just so interesting that you say that. 

[00:35:32] Erica Dhawan: I've seen a lot of creative things teams have done. There's one team that created acronyms. Because they found that people felt rushed to respond to something, especially if the boss sent the email at 9:00 PM, they felt like they all had to respond at 9:00 PM thereby being exhausted the next morning.

[00:35:49] And so one leader started using an acronym called ROM, which meant respond on Monday. So if you send something on Friday afternoon, like you don't need to ruin your weekend on it. And I've been there, I've [00:36:00] ruined a weekend on a Sunday rushing something when I really didn't have to. Another one is NTR, which means no need to respond.

[00:36:07] And I think that saves like the 15 emails or thank you's or okays in an internal team. And another one of my favorites is a team that created, response time norms in their subject lines. So two H meant I need this in two hours. It's urgent. So someone could quickly read their subject line and know what is urgent.

[00:36:25] Four D means this is due in four days. And I think that's really important, especially now where when we get so many messages. It can feel, as you mentioned, easy to prioritize hastiness over thoughtfulness because people feel like doing work is just responding to emails. When it's actually being thoughtful, bringing you know, substance to others.

[00:36:45] And really taking that time to think about how am I creating prioritization for my teams? They can't read when I have a raised eyebrow. When something really is urgent in the same way. 

[00:36:55] Hala Taha: So I wanna talk about written communications because these days, we don't [00:37:00] talk or even walk the talk.

[00:37:01] We write the talk and if we're all writing, then that means that we're reading too. And so most of our communication at work in 2023 is reading and writing. And so according to research done by linguist Naomi Baron, we comprehend less when we're reading a screen than when we read on print. We're more inclined to skim multitask.

[00:37:21] We search around instead of reading slowly and carefully. So talk to us about why we're all reading so poorly nowadays, and why reading carefully is actually the new listening. 

[00:37:30] Erica Dhawan: As a linguist, Naomi Baron said, we comprehend less when we read on screens, and I really took that to heart. When I first heard her data around that about four years ago.

[00:37:41] I thought about all of the Kindle books I was reading versus the print books I was reading, or the fact that I would just read the New York Times app, and never read the actual newspaper. And I think what I've learned through my research is that this is a phenomena, and this is real, but there are ways to [00:38:00] actually read more carefully and also write more clearly, so that our message gets across.

[00:38:05] So a few things that I've learned. Number one, we tend to read information, the way we read websites. So visual cues matter, just like visual cues matter in body language. So if you send an email, did you use bold and underlying headings? Did you bullet point? Did you, if it was a long email, did you have a quick summary on top and then a longer description below, or screenshot exactly. What you needed for the change to be made versus a 30 page deck. Where someone has to click and search and take a lot of time.

[00:38:36] Did you make it visually appealing for that person to read and understand that message? Other things that I've seen that have made a big difference are making sure you don't ask vague open-ended questions, especially in written communication. What are your thoughts? That's a hard one. Instead, ask and create options.

[00:38:55] Do you think we should do A, B, or C? Asynchronous written communication is [00:39:00] better for options and it can often be really great for decision making. But when it comes to brainstorming, it's better to have people do individualized work and maybe send their individualized work, or do their individualized work and then come together and have that discussion. Whether on a phone call, a video call, or an in-person meeting.

[00:39:17] And so when it comes to understanding this phenomenon of reading carefully as the new listening. I think a lot of it is starts with being impeccable in our own words. And the words that we share with others. And Hala you are a pro at this. Your company is a pro at this, helping clients like me, but I think it's for all of us. Just in general, workplace culture and sales.

[00:39:39] Knowing how to write clearly, knowing how to make sure that as a boss we're reading carefully. We're not rushing to judgment on things too. I'll never forget one leader. I sent him a message saying, do you wanna speak Wednesday or Thursday? It was a high priority meeting, and his response was, yes.

[00:39:56] And it just made me feel devalued and then I had to follow up again. [00:40:00] And how many of us have been in that situation with a client, customer, or team member, or have been on the reverse and don't realize it? So taking the time to read carefully is almost like the new head nod. I hear you. I value your time.

[00:40:14] I'm with. And then on the flip side, taking the time to write clearly is the new empathy. It's the reverse. I respect you and I'm gonna give you what you need to do your best work. In my research, I found that some of the sloppiest communicators, and digital written communication were executives. Who were very used to just saying things and everyone just doing them in the office.

[00:40:37] And I think work is not reverting back to just saying things. It has to be done in different ways. You can be creative. You could send a voice note. You could send a video note too. Those are things that can be helpful here, especially for executive teams. 

[00:40:51] Hala Taha: 100%. So what you were just saying in terms of executives, who are used to barking orders or talking to their team. 

[00:40:58] So I feel like on [00:41:00] Slack I can get away with having like stream of consciousness texting. I like to call it, where I won't even think. I'll just write and there'll be so many, it's probably so annoying from my employees, but I get away with it when it's somebody that I work really closely with.

[00:41:14] I talk to them all the time. I've seen them in person. They know that I'm not being mean and they know who I am, and that I'm just like fast fast, and I'm just trying to get it all out. But if I do that to a new team member, it's like they immediately think I'm mean, or I'm like, it just comes off the wrong way.

[00:41:30] So talk to us about having to think, before we actually type and slow down and maybe some of the formatting best practices with Slack and email and things like that. 

[00:41:40] Erica Dhawan: Absolutely. I'll never forget, I have a story and example of this that I share in my book. Where I hired an intern based in Dallas. A marketing intern years ago, and he had done some graduate work in marketing.

[00:41:55] We had a great relationship. I would shoot him off an email to get things done. He would get it [00:42:00] done. We tried to do weekly meetings, but sometimes I'd have to cancel, but he still got the work done. Six weeks in, we had a quick phone call. We weren't doing video calls then, but we should have. We had a quick call and I said, I think things are going great.

[00:42:14] How do you think things are going? And he said, I think things are going terrible. I feel like quitting today. And I realized that what was happening is I took his sort of nonchalant, okay. I'll get it done to be things are great, but in fact he had felt really devalued over those six weeks. So I'll give you a few things that I realized I did.

[00:42:34] One, I would often send brief low context emails and not give him enough information. He had to dig for stuff. I would cancel meetings or sometimes, I remember on one of our earlier calls I had another call and I like paused him and took another call, and then got back to him. And let's be honest, I'm sharing my own failures at this, but it really allowed me to understand how disrespectful it felt for that new remote employee who didn't [00:43:00] know me.

[00:43:00] I rarely used punctuation. I never used an emoji. And this was a Gen Z employee, where that quick emoji. Was the new smile. It was the new, you're doing a good job. And I'd even do things like thx not write out. Thank you. And that just felt like an acknowledgement of an email versus a real thank you.

[00:43:18] And so I was able to save it. Luckily, I got much more thoughtful about what he wanted to learn about. We did regular calls, we talked about what he wanted to learn. I radically recognized the work he was doing. I became much more maniacally clear in my messages, and I was respectful of his time. I wouldn't chronically cancel like I often did.

[00:43:38] And I think. I learned through my failures, and I think that we all learn that way, or we learn by being treated badly from someone else. I share another example where I'll never forget being in an in-person client meeting. Where the client was on her phone the whole time and it was just, it felt so disrespectful.

[00:43:54] I think that this really is about taking that time to think before we [00:44:00] type, because the new version of think before you speak is think before you type. And it's also about choosing what I call maniacal clarity. Which is not just thinking you're clear, but taking that extra pause. Even if it's two breaths before you shoot that Slack or that message over and saying, did I answer the who, what, when?

[00:44:18] What is the ask? What is their response time? Why do they know why they need. Do they understand why I am sharing this? Just giving them a little more context. I'm not asking for long pros, but enough so they understand. Why their work matters and then on the flip side, regularly showing gratitude.

[00:44:35] And that could be virtual shoutouts on Slack. It could be a quick voice note or a quick email once a week. Taking the time to just acknowledge when great work is done. I believe that one of the reasons there was a great resignation is because we didn't always know, how to have a great recognition of our colleagues, using digital body language.

[00:44:54] Hala Taha: It's so true. I feel like people could, because in the office you could just go by somebody's desk and be like, you know what? [00:45:00] Great presentation. Good job. It's something that you would say in the hallway. Now you need to create that space so that you can give awards and recognition and celebrate. So I think that's a really great point.

[00:45:11] Erica Dhawan: That's right. Think about it. If someone stayed up all night to work on a deliverable for you and in the office. They could see the smile on your face the next day, the exhale in your breath. Now if they get a message that says K period on Slack or Email or thx, they don't feel valued visibly in that same way. 

[00:45:27] Hala Taha: We'll be right back after a quick break from our sponsors. Hear that sound? 

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[00:48:23] So you touched on emojis and a lot of people think they're unprofessional, but actually we don't have tone anymore. So talk to us about the importance of using emojis since so much of our communication is written now. 

[00:48:33] Erica Dhawan: Similar to the way we've become more informal in workplace language, five years ago we weren't often using phrases like super or awesome in the workplace. And they become more common lingo in workplace language.

[00:48:45] I believe emojis are an extension of that, and I think of emojis as the new versions of facial expressions, when facial expressions aren't possible. When we're sending a written communication on Slack, text, email, you name it. And [00:49:00] my general rule of thumb here is to simply think before you emoji. So know your audience.

[00:49:06] And know your audience by asking two questions. The first is, what is the power dynamic between us? And the second question is, how much do we trust each other? So first, power dynamic. If this is someone you've never met before, maybe a new client, just like you'd err on the side of formality in an in-person meeting with them, err on the side of formality, maybe lay off on the emojis and the first interaction.

[00:49:27] But if they start using them, you can jump in to that feel, that chemistry of that informality. If this is someone where there's very little power dynamic. I'm a big fan of using them, I think they do replace the smile, the laughter signals in the workplace. Second is trust levels. So if you've known someone for a really long time. I'm a big fan of using them.

[00:49:49] If it feels authentic to you, if this is someone you know you don't have high trust with, again, air on the side of formality first. Now for leaders, I've actually seen many [00:50:00] of them start to use emojis. It was almost like a rite of passage. They had never used emojis before, and they started in the pandemic because they realized.

[00:50:07] It was a lot harder to show their positive tone, their smile, their appreciation of their team. And for those digital natives, that have been working hard on that team that weren't seeing them as often. That quick smiley face allowed them to know that their work was valued. That they were on a positive note versus that period that could often feel a little harsh.

[00:50:28] There's actually a study that showed that if you put a period at the end of a text message, digital natives often think that means passive aggressiveness. It's like a harsh stop because they grew up in an instant messaging culture, where it was and those I call digital adapters. They feel more like immigrants to digital body language.

[00:50:45] They think that's just good punctuation and grammar. I always say my father's a digital adapter and when he sends me a text message. It starts with, dear Erica, it ends with love Dad, and I have to scroll through it cause it's as long as a letter. And I haven't quite taught him that a text is not the same as a [00:51:00] letter, but it's just an example to show.

[00:51:02] That we're not all the same. So as we go back to emojis and really think about all punctuation, remember that context is everything. Just like context is everything in traditional body language. 

[00:51:13] Hala Taha: Yeah! Something that sparked my interest in what you said is that you can actually mirror what people are doing.

[00:51:18] So if somebody's using emojis, it gives you permission to do emojis, and that's how it is in real life with body language. If somebody's leaning in, you wanna lean in. 

[00:51:26] Erica Dhawan: That's right. 

[00:51:27] Hala Taha: Talk to us about mirroring with digital body language. 

[00:51:30] Erica Dhawan: A couple things that I think are really valuable when it comes to mirroring with digital body language.

[00:51:35] So you're trying to build a relationship with someone and they start to use, a more informal communication medium with you. You have a right to continue to engage in that informal communication medium. So for example, you start off with a relationship and you're emailing in that relationship. Maybe it's a client, but then that client starts texting you.

[00:51:58] You then, [00:52:00] because they led with it, they have more power. You actually can mirror back and bridge and start to build that texting relationship. Now you may be on the other end, and I've been here where people start texting me and I don't want texts from them. In that situation, that's the opposite of mirroring.

[00:52:13] How do you get out of a situation? I always do things where I won't respond to the text and I'll move to email and say, moving this to email and continue only on email. And I think that's the examples of mirroring. It's this idea of using this a similar communication medium or not.

[00:52:33] It's understanding punctuation and emojis and tone. If someone is using three exclamation points in their emails. You could use three exclamation points if you want to. I'm someone who likes exclamations. Not everyone likes them, but it's just an example to show these cues. In a video call, if someone does show up on video and you're trying to build a relationship. I think mirroring back that respect on video is important.

[00:52:58] I recently was doing [00:53:00] these coaching calls where I was transcribing what teams were saying, and I said, I'm gonna be video off because I'm gonna be looking down the whole time. And I didn't wanna be disrespectful to them. And I said, feel free to put your video off. And I wanted them to mirror me so that there wasn't an une equalness in the call.

[00:53:16] Hala Taha: So interesting. And I feel like a lot of us do this naturally, but it's so cool to think about how we can proactively be more conscious of these things. And to the emoji point, being a leader is energy management, and you've gotta keep people positive and happy, and that is 90% of your job if you want productive employees.

[00:53:34] So without emojis, it's very hard in written communication to show the enthusiasm, to show the energy, to get the hype with the team as high as possible. So totally agree. So I know that men and women actually communicate a little bit differently than each other, so I'd love to get some insight around that.

[00:53:51] Erica Dhawan: Similar to the research that shows that men and women tend to communicate differently in person. That there are some gender biases, whether it's, voice [00:54:00] pitch, where men tend to have a deeper voice pitch and data shows they tend to be heard more in a room with a deeper voice pitch. And women can have a deeper across the gender spectrum.

[00:54:08] We can all, but a deeper voice pitch tends to be listened to more intently. There is also the notion of uptalking in traditional communication where research shows that particularly women, but not just women, tend to have a higher tone in their voice at the end. Almost like a giggle or a laughter that can often be seen as derailing and even hedging language.

[00:54:31] Language, like maybe or just, or if you could versus I need this now. Something that's really direct is another example of where we've research has shown that there's gender differences. What I found is I really set out to look at how does this translate in a digital world. And what I did find was that many of the gender biases or nuances in traditional communication get amplified online actually.

[00:54:57] But there are also some benefits. So some of the things that [00:55:00] get amplified. There was a study that showed that when younger females use multiple emojis in a workplace email, compared to men at any rank level, in that same workplace. The woman was more likely to be seen as incompetent. The man was more likely to be seen as casual or friendly.

[00:55:16] Hala Taha: Wow. 

[00:55:17] Erica Dhawan: Just because of their gender. And let me be honest, I'm a big proponent of using emojis. I believe in them. And that study is a few years old. But I think it was about knowing your audience as well in that these things do exist. There was another that looked at the all caps in when in a visual, people assume that if a man used an all caps message. It meant urgency or shouting.

[00:55:42] When a woman used it, it meant excitement. And so that was another example of just a traditional bias. In my book I showcase a study that I did where I had an email and I had people guess who sent it, a woman or a man. And it had three exclamations in it [00:56:00] and it had an XO and everyone said it was a woman.

[00:56:03] And so it's just an example to show this. And even simple things like, studies have shown if there are two individuals or man and woman on the two line of an email exchange. And you ask them who's the boss and who's the assistant, and one's a woman, one's a man. People generally think that the boss was the man, the male name.

[00:56:22] And so these are just some of the things that I think exist. My big belief is let's not harp on them. Let's understand them and let's fight them. Let's allow and create an environment where we can all be authentic. Let's allow women to be more direct and to the point if they want to. Let's encourage men to throw those emojis and exclamation points into their messages across the gender spectrum.

[00:56:45] Being who you are and acknowledging and checking your own biases in your digital body language. Not assuming someone is a certain way, because we've all been in those situations where we have this first digital impression of someone and then they were completely different in [00:57:00] person. And so I think the whole goal here is to acknowledge and then check the bias.

[00:57:05] Hala Taha: Totally. So let's move on to teams and building healthy culture. So we touched on this idea of radical recognition. I would love to go deeper on that. Why do we need radical recognition and what are some ways that managers, small business owners, entrepreneurs can implement that in their teams? 

[00:57:22] Erica Dhawan: I think the number one thing that.

[00:57:25] Teams felt a loss of, especially in the last few years, is those moments of recognition, inspiration, social connection, team spirit. We're doing this together, we're in this together. And those things were happening in the lunchroom, at the water cooler, at the in-person town halls. And my belief is that we have an opportunity to create that radical recognition, even better than we ever did in past, in the past, to make it more inclusive of people, not just in front of us, to really focus on merit versus proximity.

[00:57:56] And to make sure there are rituals anytime, anywhere for radical [00:58:00] recognition. So I'll give you a few examples and maybe Hala, you have examples of things that you've done for your own team. 

[00:58:06] Hala Taha: I do.

[00:58:07] Erica Dhawan: Some of my favorite ones are just regular weekly virtual shoutouts gratitude moments of great work that's being done.

[00:58:15] I know one leader at the beginning of all of his team calls within the first two minutes. He highlights great work that's been done across teams and specific names. I know one boss that during Covid, he called every single one of his employees on their birthdays. I'm not saying that's something we all need to do, but it's an example of I see you and I see you as a person, and I see you as someone.

[00:58:37] He had 1600 employees. This was not a small organization. It just showed, I see you and you're a part of the team beyond just your work life video shout outs. I know one executive that sends a video shout out as a quick thank you to his teams, and so those are just some examples. But also radical recognition is also about showing, not just talking.

[00:58:57] So giving people a mental health [00:59:00] break. I know teams that created meeting free Wednesday mornings because they wanted people to be off. That was the recognition of their hard work. Others that were funded lunches or ways to get away. And last but not least, I think radical recognition also happens through better storytelling and through sharing our own stories, being vulnerable if we're a leader of a team around. Where we've struggled and creating that space of psychological safety for other people to do the same.

[00:59:28] Hala Taha: I feel like having employees that feel appreciated is just such a huge part of the puzzle, when you're a leader. So at YAP Media, we do gratitude Fridays. So we have a Slack channel. It's in our general chat anyone can kick it off and it's really fun to see who, what time it gets kicked off and who kicks it off every Friday.

[00:59:46] And people just list off who they're grateful for in the company, and I love it. Let's close out with some information on engagement. I just want to close out talking about disengaged employees because I [01:00:00] think that's a topic that we didn't really cover that I think is really important. So what are the signs of disengaged employees and how can we engage them?

[01:00:07] Erica Dhawan: I think a couple of signs of disengaged employees are employees who are assuming someone's being passive aggressive or toxic in an ambiguous email. Even though they just rushed it or said it really quickly. Like maybe you and Hala, you and I might do signs of disengagement. Are people not responding at a time that they were expected to?

[01:00:31] They're not sharing in those meetings where you have those dull moments of silence and I. A lot of that depends on the host, creating that space where people jump in. But if they're still not jumping in, that's a big sign of disengagement. And then last but not least, people not being feeling open to share what's not working just as much as what is working.

[01:00:53] One executive, I know he always asks his team, what's one piece of bad news I normally wouldn't wanna hear. He doesn't assume [01:01:00] they'll share bad news every week. It's honest agenda. What's the bad news? They talk about good news too. But he found that he radically recognized those that were sharing things that weren't working and gave them a space.

[01:01:11] And that allowed some of those more disengaged employees to be able to work through some of their challenges. There will always be in organizations, people that are engaged, people that are somewhat engaged, people that are disengaged, but can get engaged. And that people that are just negators. And detractors, and at this point in the the work. That we're all doing, we've heard terms like quiet, quitting, and I'm a big believer that let's not talk about quiet quitting. Let's talk about the opposite with our teams. What does joyful engagement look like? What does that look like?

[01:01:43] What task do you do that create it? How do we do more of that? How do we align people to the tasks that bring them joyful engagement? And if we do more of that, we can help address a lot of the disengagement, but do it in a way that's positive versus, creating a normalization of language [01:02:00] like quietly quitting. Which can almost say it's okay to coast or Slack off in your career.

[01:02:05] And I'm a big believer of ending toxic culture, but I also am a big believer in using positive language to do that. 

[01:02:12] Hala Taha: I love that. So Erica, tell me what do you think the biggest trends are for the workplace in 2023 and beyond? 

[01:02:19] Erica Dhawan: A couple key trends for 2023 and beyond. Number one, I think there are going to be a lot more jobs that are going to turn into AI, artificial intelligence jobs. That will soon become outdated and there will be a wave of more creative careers that will be emerging over the next five years.

[01:02:39] Number two, I think that organizations are gonna become much more creative about hiring people outside of their region or location. Hiring people in Africa and India and the Philippines around the world. And that's going to change a lot of the trajectory around where people live and the loss of sort of the big urban city [01:03:00] workplaces and the spread out global model.

[01:03:03] And I think last but not least, number three, a trend for the workplace is there's gonna be a move from just quiet quitting to what we're all seeing now, which is called quiet hiring. Where organizations are gonna be looking at their highest performers in their organizations and bringing them into new roles.

[01:03:22] And instead of looking out just to hire. They're gonna look within in a very different way to pick and choose those top performers and bring them into new roles. So those are some of the key trends that I'm seeing. I think it's up to all of us to just keep learning and growing and adapting in what has been, really a transformative few years.

[01:03:42] And I truly believe that digital body language is here to stay. And it's also something that is not just important online. Digital body language is now changing our traditional body language. We're on screens more in person. We are looking down at our phones in meetings. And I think being [01:04:00] proactive about helping those that are struggling with it. Learn digital body language skills and helping those that are digital natives to actually remember how to have traditional body language skills as well.

[01:04:10] Hala Taha: I feel like we covered so much ground in this interview. You are really a true expert. So we close out the show. I always ask the same two questions and then we do some fun stuff at the end of the year. So the first one is, what is one actionable thing our Young and Profiteers can do today to become more profiting tomorrow?

[01:04:26] Erica Dhawan: Don't forget to show gratitude digitally. 

[01:04:29] Hala Taha: Love it. And what is your secret to profiting in life? 

[01:04:33] Erica Dhawan: Everything is figure out. 

[01:04:34] Hala Taha: I love it. Thank you so much, Erica. Where can everybody go learn more about you and everything that you do? 

[01:04:40] Erica Dhawan: You can learn more about me at, my LinkedIn, my Instagram page, and I also have a free toolkit.

[01:04:47] It's a four page summary of my latest book 

[01:04:52] Hala Taha: Awesome. 

[01:04:53] I hope you guys connect with Erika. We're gonna put all her links in our show notes. We'll link to the hybrid toolkit. I highly recommend it. I've used it myself, [01:05:00] so thank you so much, Erika, for your time. 

[01:05:02] Erica Dhawan: Thank you so much!

[01:05:06] Hala Taha: Man. I loved this episode with Erika Dhawan. I immediately went and implemented some of her strategies. As soon as we were done with the recording, the first thing I did was message everybody on my team on Slack, and I came up with a whole slew of abbreviations to help us communicate better in digital written text.

[01:05:24] For example, now at YAP Media, if we're given an assignment on Slack. We use the abbreviation H for hours and D for days. And in parentheses, we clarify how long we expect the assignment to take after we give the request. So for example, I message everybody in one of my Slack channels Hey, I need, the social media post to promote my LinkedIn masterclass parenthesis two days slash rtm respond tomorrow because I'm messaging in off hours.

[01:05:50] So now we have this little like code that gives expectations and clarity around deadlines, around when we want people to respond. Which just makes all this uncertainty about digital [01:06:00] communications so much more clear. So again, if I'm asking the team something at night or during non-work hours. I might say RTM, meaning respond tomorrow.

[01:06:08] Or if I start messaging on the weekend, I can say ROM respond on Monday. Or if I'm just trying to get a thought out there when I get it off my chest, I don't really need to respond. I can say N T R, no need to respond. And I even made up my own abbreviations, for example, AE, which means acknowledge this message with an emoji, a thumbs up or a check mark.

[01:06:28] Sometimes all it takes is just an acknowledgement, like this person has seen what I've written and then it just calms me down. So I feel like with this 24/7 slacking, that is now modern day work, giving each other some boundaries, some clear expectations in terms of response times and deadlines.

[01:06:44] It's just so important for a healthy company culture. And like Erica said, writing clearly is the new empathy. That is just like mind blowing. What a gem and our modern workplace. Up to 70% of our communication is virtual or hybrid in some way. So we've gotta [01:07:00] get better at writing more clearly and with more empathy on digital.

[01:07:02] This is a skill that will help all of us in our careers. And aside from Slack hacks, Erica gave us so much great advice on how to run effective meetings, look engaged, and have proper body language on Zoom. And we even cover different virtual communication channels in the scenarios in which they should be used.

[01:07:19] So the other thing that I implemented right away was the urgency and response times based on the different communication channels, that we frequently use at YAP Media. For example, I made the rule that 24 hour turnaround deadline is the expectation for email. If it's client facing, you should be responding within 24 hours.

[01:07:38] No if, ands, or buts. Okay? At least saying, I've received this message. I'm unable to respond in detail, but I'll get back to you by X date. You've gotta at least send that message within 24 hours. Okay? The other thing is Slack messages that need to be responded within two to three hours if received during work hours.

[01:07:57] If you're working full-time. I expect you to respond within [01:08:00] two to three hours. And texting and phone calls on personal cell phones are really only for emergencies. We do not accept that kind of invasion of privacy. It's not our company culture to, go that far in terms of reaching our employees.

[01:08:13] If it's an emergency, we might call you on the phone, but other than that. We're keeping it to text and email, and you've gotta stick within the response times that we've outlined. And I have to say this is really helpful because it seems obvious, especially I think for younger generations. This type of cadence and the fact that, you've gotta be responsive on Slack, you've gotta acknowledge with emojis and things like that.

[01:08:33] To us that might seem natural, but to older generations, I don't think it's as natural. And I think that the biggest issue that I've had with older employees is their lack of response time on Slack, an email and them not just being used to this 24/7 way that we work now. And so just being more clear I think is really gonna help everyone be up to speed level, setting expectations.

[01:08:58] I just think it's gonna [01:09:00] really help company cultureat YAP Media. So shout out to Erica Dhawan for all the great. What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Let me know by dropping me a DM on Instagram @yapwithhala or leaving us a five star review on Apple podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in to today's Young and Profiting episode with Digital Workplace Expert Erica Dhawan.

[01:09:20] And if you'd like to watch your podcast. I'd love to remind you that every interview we have is also uploaded to our Young and Profiting page on YouTube. You guys can find me on LinkedIn at Hala Taha. 

[01:09:30] I'd love to hear from you and shout out to my amazing podcast team, both on the production side, the admin side, the adop side.

[01:09:38] You guys are absolutely all rock stars, so thank you so much. I appreciate you all. Stay Young and Profiting out there. This is your host, the podcast, princess Hala Taha, signing off.[01:10:00] 

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